The "Reform Administration"

General Chen Yi Rewarded

THE FORMOSANS WAITED in stunned bewilderment, mourning the dead. What next? Neither the ostentatious visit of General Pai Chung-hsi nor the shower of leaflets bearing Chiang's speech had done much to improve the tense situation.

In late March and April many nervous Chinese carpetbaggers slipped away to the mainland, taking with them what they could. The future was not bright here among such hostile island people. Some of the better immigrants also began to leave. They had come to Formosa in hope that here, at last, they could move forward in their professions. Now some thought it a good time to leave China altogether - a hard decision to make - moving on to Hong Kong, America, or Europe to begin life anew. Obviously Formosa was destined to go the way the rest of China had gone under Nationalist Party rule.

I shall quote from only one - an engineer - to suggest the views of non-Party men who wanted only peace for China, and an opportunity for national recovery. He also gives us a glimpse of mainland Chinese attitudes toward Formosa, toward Government, and toward the United States.

"You appreciate [he wrote] how many intellectual Chinese regard American support of the Chiang regime as the main factorin prolonging the Chinese people's agony On the subject of a Trust status for the island he was vehement:

To the average Chinese such a solution would appear grossly unjust . . . Formosa is related to China by blood and history. It would therefore be a double wrong for the Americans to advocate severing Formosa from China on the grounds that the government they support in China is corrupt. [He refers here to Chen Yi as Chiang's agent] . . . within my life I have watched the Formosans drift away from us as a result of Japanese education and propaganda. The gap widened to such an extent that in 1941 I could scarcely pick out the Formosans who came across with the Japanese Army. Peace has hardly come long enough to allow the Formosans to reorient themselves. A further stretch of American administration would further alienate the Formosans from my people. The drift might be permanent and impossible to remedy. [1]

In commenting on Chen Yi's failure, he believed that the Central Government had too many agencies under its direct control - among them the Army, the Party, the Customs, and the judiciary. This made it impossible for Chen Yi to get a firm grip on the situation. Then with great candor, he puts forward this view of government:

. . . Under Chen Yi were some bad eggs, such as his Secretary General Keh, who happened to be supported by Chiang. Of course the masses of lower officials were of very poor quality. Lastly, I maintained that Chen Yi pursued a liberal policy which was entirely unsuitable for the task, for the simple reason that (1) the Central Government had made up its mind to milk Formosa, (2) discord produced by the independent bodies mentioned above were bound to undermine any good that Chen Yi might do for the Formosans, so that a strong hand from the start, coupled with a policy of white-washing (through the press, bribing the vociferous classes, i.e. the intelligentsia, school teachers, businessmen, etc.) would have done the trick, and the world would never have heard about any misrule on Formosa.

I mentioned the last because such patterns of government have been practiced and are still practiced in China successfully. The main thing is to suppress undesirable news, and show a strong hand on every occasion. Another man in Chen Yi's position would have proclaimed martial law, and warned the Formosan leaders of mass arrests, put them under strict surveyance, etc. instead of letting things drift into chaotic freedom ... [2]

These comments illustrate the failure of well-educated mainland Chinese to comprehend the changes which had taken place among Formosans during three hundred years of frontier island life, and half a century of orderly technological development. They continued to treat Formosa as a backward hinterland province.

Chiang was just then begging Washington for another huge loan to keep his regime afloat. Some show of reform was required. Chen Yi would have to be replaced.

To sooth the barbarians at Washington, where the Wei's in wartime had established a large reputation as genial hosts, Dr. Wei Tao-ming was named to succeed Chen, a choice bound to be received favorably. They could be assured of support among officials who sometimes mistook a foreigner's ability to speak English for a passionate devotion to democracy and the American Way of Life.

Chen was allowed to linger on at Taipei for six weeks. This gave him time to settle many old scores. The local economy was shaken as his men liquidated real properties and sought gold bars or American dollars to pack off to Shanghai.

Despite the fine talk of "reform" at Nanking, the reign of terror continued. Under the ancient Chinese "mutual responsibility" system (the pao-chia system), every community was organized in groups of ten households. Each household put forward a senior member who was held responsible for the behavior of all the individuals within his own household. From each group of ten household representatives, one member was put forward to represent them all in a second group of ten. This second group, therefore, represented and was held responsible for the behavior of one hundred households, and for every individual in the subordinate groups. For any infringement of the law, or for acts deemed offensive to the Army, the Party, or the Government, punishments were graduated to suit the occasion. These ranged from a mere public tongue-lashing (loss of face) through fines, confiscation of property, imprisonment and torture, to the extreme penalty, death. Thus the entire community could be squeezed without mercy to yield up information concerning an individual member wanted by the authorities.

Chen Yi brought the system to new refinement now by altering the base unit from ten to five households, thus making twice as many household heads immediately responsible in every community. This, coupled with the reward-system for stoolpigeons, made it extremely difficult for Formosan leaders who had gone underground to rally their forces.

A Formosan letter to UNRRA's Chief Medical Officer at this time notes the persistent hope that the United Nations might intervene, and alludes to the continuing manhunt in the hills and through the countryside.

I try my best in spreading the news and persuading the people that U.N. Trusteeship is possible. But under the present situation it is almost impossible to spread it wide enough. And it is very difficult to persuade the people that U.N. will take the problem because people think Taiwan is too small.

Several hundred are still in the mountains, but they are in difficult situation because food is very short there and some influential aborigines who were bribed by the Government do not cooperate with the Formosans.

Secret organization is now going on very slowly, but increasingly. Majority of people become very timid after the "blood bath". I hope they will quickly forget it. But the hatred is 100%.

If plebiscite is held I am quite sure that U.N. Trusteeship (especially U.S.A.) will get 100% support . . .

So-called "Purge of Towns and Villages" is practised and people are imposed with joint liability, and if one wicked person is found, all the people will be punished. Such a wicked system as the Dark Ages! [3]

Another Formosan writing at the time tells of the terrifying sudden night raids: "If . . . police happen to investigate in the midnight, which happen very often recently, and the change in number of the family is found, all member of the family, including the old and children, will be arrested, and the people also who guaranteed will be punished." [4]

From every part of the island UNRRA team members reported a continuing campaign of intimidation and revenge, settling old scores for the Army, the Party and the Government. Mainland Chinese who had been thwarted in buccaneering exploits in 1946 now sometimes enjoyed bloody reprisals. At Keelung seventeen prominent Formosans were arrested and told that they would die if they could not produce 100,000 yen or its equivalent value in rice. At Taipei thirteen men were forced to produce a total of 40,000 bags of rice within three days. Similar incidents elsewhere led the UNRRA observers to believe that confiscations were intended to deny supplies to refugees in the high mountains, and to enable the newly arrived troops to live off the land.

All criminal acts--including the depredations of Nationalist soldiers --were now blamed upon Formosans, diversifying excuses for arrest and execution. A Norwegian member of the UNRRA team wrote:

Monday the 14 April in Takao about 11:30 a.m., two brothers about 25 and 33 years of age were executed in the main square in front of the railway station. Helena [also] saw the gathering of people and the police just after . . . we found out . . . that the two were accused of being some of the ringleaders on the 28 February. The cruelty of it was, the two men's families were fetched and they had to attend the execution . . .

You will remember the man who tried to intercede for those arrested at Heito when the troops came in (Muriel's report). He, who had not participated at all, was led down to the square in front of the Provincial Hospital, had to kneel down, got tied up and shot. His wife and two children were forced to attend . . . [5]

On April 19 an UNRRA doctor - a South American - saw a score of well-dressed young Formosans being driven through the streets by Nationalist soldiers. Each man was trussed up and the lot were bound together, neck-to-neck, by heavy cords. They were headed toward the river on the outskirts of town and there could be no doubt that they would be tortured or dead within the hour.

Chen Yi was to leave on May 1. It was now decreed that April 26 would be set aside as "Thanksgiving Day" and that all school children would contribute tokens of thanks--money tokens, of course--for the protection which had been extended to them by the Nationalist Army in March. Every primary school child was assessed five yen; every middle school pupil was assessed double the sum.

Both the Protestant and Catholic schools protested this outrageous "thanksgiving" rite, but protest only added to their difficulties. Schools were closed just after the February Incident. As they resumed work, the mission authorities had to agree, in writing, to create new boards of directors on which mainland Chinese would form the majority. The boards thereafter would determine curriculum and have the power to hire and fire the faculty. The missions were denied permission to resume work at stations among the East Coast aborigines.

At about this time the UNRRA organization was astonished to learn that the Taipei Government (Yen Chia-kan, Finance Commissioner) had arranged a loan of forty-nine billion Chinese National Currency dollars--a credit to be available inShanghai--which was secured against a quantity of sugar, rice, and other Formosan products, and against an UNRRA shipment of 200,000 tons of fertilizer donated by Canada and the United States for use in Formosa. The UNRRA team wanted to know who was to use this credit on the mainland, and for what purpose. It was widely speculated that this might perhaps represent Chen Yi's final payoff insofar as Formosa was concerned.

Chiang Kai-shek showed his supreme indifference to public opinion. For the benefit of the barbarians at Washington he had made the gesture of reform in the appointment of Wei Tao-ming. General Chen Yi was called up to Nanking to become a Senior Advisor to the Government. When a suitable time had elapsed he was made Governor of Chekiang Province which has an area three times greater than the island of Formosa, and a population twice as great. It offered splendid economic opportunities. Moreover it had special importance in Chiang's eyes, for it held the tombs of his ancestors and the ancestors of Chen Yi. It was true Home Territory.

Dr. and Mrs. Wei's Reform Administration

General Chen Yi and his Japanese mistress had been content to live in a modest confiscated house on a side street, using the ostentatious Executive Mansion as a Government Guest House for conferences and parties. Governor and Mme. Wei preferred the official residence.* This grandiose structure--nearly as large as the White House in Washington--was set in park-like gardens. It had been built early in the century as a symbol of Japan's imperial authority and over the years had become a museum of sorts, filled with rare and curious objects.

Madame Wei--a colorful and forceful personality, to say the least-often boasted that she had been a bomb-carrying student revolutionary in her youth, but these days were now far away. It was soon seen that she dominated the Governor's office, and at Shanghai and Nanking she was sometimes dubbed the "Super Governor" of Formosa. She had prominent and powerful connections in the Central Government in her own right, and on Formosa enjoyed the presence of her nephew, the Deputy Garrison Commanding General, Niu Hsien-ming.

Soon after the Wei's took office, there began to be extraordinary fluctuations in the money market. A few well-favored persons were said to have made fortunes. After commenting on the erratic exchange and the cynicism with which the Formosans looked upon Wei's "reform administration," one well-informed Formosan wrote:

We hope that Governor Wei may not follow the way of Chen. But I have heard that many persons who are adherents of T. V. Soong followed Wei into the economic sphere of Taiwan. Now the Government are going to open the door of Industry under the name "Democratic policy" but how can we Formosans compete with T. V. Soong group or other mainland business men ... ? [6]

All of Chen Yi's Commissioners vanished from the scene all but one, Yen Chia-kan, Chen's Commissioner of Finance. The new Secretary General was Dr. Hsu Dau-lin, a legal expert trained in Germany and one-time secretary to the Generalissimo. As window-dressing, seven Formosans were named Commissioners, representing half of Dr. Wei's "cabinet." The titles were nominal, for none of the Formosan Commissioners was free to name his own subordinates, and in each case the Vice Commissioner was a mainland Chinese, the effective "boss." At the fourth level of administration many Formosans were named "vice directors," but each was in turn surrounded by mainland Chinese to make sure that all were kept in line. One familiar face lingered for a time on the edges of bureaucracy--Dr. King,Chen Yi's Director of Public Health remained on Formosa to direct the drug manufacturing company in which Chen had had such manifest interest.

Governor Wei held office for eighteen months and two weeks. Given the conditions then prevailing on the mainland he faced a hopeless task. Many of his attempts at economic reform and social readjustment failed, The raw material stockpiles were depleted, and the technical organizations were disrupted by the post-Incident emigration of well-trained men. Unemployment increased as industrial production declined. Bank loans continued to be made principally for commercial purposes.

While the new Governor rustled papers on his desk and Commissioner Yen struggled to hold inflation in check, the economic confusion at Shanghai grew worse. Taipei had authority to adjust exchange rates for the local currency (Taiwan yen) against the wildly fluctuating Chinese National Currency (CNC), but it was extremely difficult. There could be no stabilization of economy on Formosa until the island was cut off from mainland chaos.

The UNRRA organization remained in being until December, 1947. By December, 1948, the Formosan economy as a whole had reached the lowest point of production per capita known since the island was ceded to Japan in 1895. In this sense, indeed, it had reverted to China. The population was increasing rapidly. In prewar days the annual export of foodstuffs and semi-processed goods had exceeded $50,000,000 in value; in 1948 goods worth scarcely $1,000,000 left Formosa through legitimate trade channels. The great Japanese sugar industry had passed into mainland Chinese hands, and now rice acreage was being reduced to make room for larger cane plantations.

Formosa was slipping back toward old Chinese habits of thought and behavior as well. The Formosan shopkeeper complained that he was no longer able to keep reasonably accurate accounts, for the immigrant Chinese refused to accept the "fixed price" system to which the Formosans had become accustomed. A single object in a merchant's stock in trade might bring ten different prices in a day, according to the shopkeeper's ability to haggle with ten different customers. The price tags attached to an object meant nothing now, and inventories yielded no reasonable basis upon which to estimate profit or loss. There were no limits to "squeeze"-the payments that had to be made to officials of Army, Party or Government to obtain licenses, privileges, or bare security in business.

Costly traditional religious practices long banned by the Japanese were resumed. These had often led families to bankrupt themselves providing ostentatious display for weddings, divination rites and costly funerals. Upon these expenditures the Japanese had placed limits which the older generation resented, but the younger generation - say those born after 1900 - had recognized them as an economic benefit. They were sorry to see them lifted. On the contrary the newcomers encouraged a return to traditional rites and ceremonies as a sign of "reassimilation" to China proper. It was all very colorful and quaint, according to visiting Americans, and it was duly recorded and published in the National Geographic Magazine, Life Magazine, and other pictorial journals, but it represented a marked retrogression, a return to 19th century Chinese standards.

The general incapacity of Governor Wei's administration may be summed up in the reports that the Government seriously considered abandoning the entire East Coast region south of Suao anchorage as "too difficult, too costly to administer, and populated only by aborigines." It was proposed to maintain contact with Hualien town by sea, but to give up the dangerous cliffside coastal road which the Japanese had constructed years ago to facilitate administration. The wretched state of the aborigines and the mixed-blood hill-people at this time has been recorded in Vern Sneider's poignant tale A Pail of Oysters, published by Putnam in 1953.

The Terror Continued

On his second day in office (May 15, 1947) Governor Wei announced that martial law was lifted forthwith, and that there would be no more arrests in connection with the February Incident. This again was window-dressing, the gesture of reform which Washington expected.

Arrests and executions continued. The civilian Dr. Wei had very little influence with either the Nationalist Army or the Nationalist Party goons. Heaviest pressure was brought to bear on Formosa's emergent middle class, the small landholders who had hitherto enough surplus to send sons and daughters to the higher schools on Formosa and the universities in Japan proper, and to invest in small business enterprises in the town. This was the class that had produced the leaders of early 1947.

The Government was particularly concerned with the higher schools, known to be centers of anti-Chinese feeling. The educational system was a shambles; at the Taiwan University in 1948 there were fifty mainland Chinese professors, eight Japanese professors and two assistant professors who were Formosans. Even the Formosan janitors had been dismissed to make way for carpetbaggers. Within the year no less than five deans succeeded one another in the University Law School and each change brought a change in staff. At one time the turnover was so confusing the Government asked the remaining Japanese professors to act as the property custodians, for they represented the only element of stability on the campus.

The hunt for student plots and for underground organizations was relentless. Stories were put about - but never verified - that the government had uncovered a conspiracy calling for island-wide retaliation upon mainland Chinese, an uprising to take place on August 22 (i.e. "8-22" the reverse of "2-28," the February 28 Incident). General Peng Meng-chi set October 31as a deadline by which all "communists" must register. Peng and his aides let no opportunity pass to make clear that "interventionist" or "independence" sentiment was equated with "communism" and would be punished accordingly.

Prominent Formosans were compelled to sign up as members of a New Culture Association, declaring themselves emphatically opposed to the very thought of trusteeship. Provincial, municipal and local councils, schools and private organizations were expected to subscribe to these declarations. To hesitate was to lay oneself open to charges of Communist subversion. Signatures by the hundreds were recorded on manifestos opposing intervention and these documents were forwarded to Washington or New York to be used as evidence that no "true Formosan" desired independence or trust status for the island.

It became necessary for every family to look first to its own security and for the individual to think twice before endangering his family through rash conduct or indiscreet conversation. The Government offered attractive rewards for information lodged against anyone heard speaking of "intervention" or "independence." Soon it was said that wherever ten Formosans were together it had to be assumed that at least one was an informant in government pay. The story is told of a party at Kaohsiung at which someone asked the guests what they would do if an invasion took place. One indiscreet Formosan, remembering the enormous rewards reaped by a Formosan collaborating with the Japanese in 1895, said with a laugh that he would like to be a "second Ku Wen-hsing." A few days later he disappeared and was not heard of again.

Formosans who had been notably friendly toward foreigners became the objects of special police attention. It was useful enough to have Governor and Mrs. Wei cultivate foreign approbation at Washington, on the other side of the Pacific, but it was quite another thing to have Formosans confiding their woes to foreigners on Formosa. On the day Wei took office the Government newspaper published a thinly veiled hint thatforeigners were not welcome and that they would be subjected to a more rigorous supervision. "We will therefore strengthen our investigation of passports, and foreigners' exits and entrances, and will control them during their stay in the island." [7]

Formosans with foreign friends now found their homes searched repeatedly and their relatives and local friends subjected to harassing interrogations. All were instructed to report to the nearest police station, at once, all foreign visitors who came to their attention and to render a full account of all topics discussed with them. A "Wanted" list of thirty names was posted. In an effort to bewilder foreign newsmen and to cast doubt upon stories which had already appeared in the foreign press the list included names of persons known definitely to have been slaughtered in early March. To suggest guilt by association well-known advocates of UN or American intervention were listed with Miss Snow Red and other known Communists. All were held to be "criminally responsible" for the March affair. They were warned to repent, turn themselves in, or face death. Governor Wei's amnesty pledges meant nothing to the Army.

Writing in June, 1947, Dr. Pierre Sylvain, an UNRRA agricultural specialist from Haiti, noted that Government forces were continuing to terrorize villages by holding "military exercises" in the narrow streets and alleyways - bayonets at the ready - which drove everyone indoors and served to remind them emphatically of their helplessness. Kaohsiung, he said, was under specially heavy pressure. Wealthy and moderately well-to-do farmers and townsmen everywhere were being held to ransom under pretext of investigating charges that they had participated in the March affair. [8]

But even under these conditions Formosans continued to appeal for help. The American Conulate was asked to sponsor a delegation of Formosans who wished to go to New York and Washington to plead their case. Writing to me, far away in America, an acquaintance said:

Plenty of the new Chinese escaped from the mainland have come to Taiwan almost every day and are disturbing and spoiling this beautiful island . . .

We understand the Chinese and Formosans are incompatible forever. We are hopeless now and can do nothing in Taiwan.

It is true that ninety-nine percent of the Formosan desire Taiwan be separated from China and they are very anxious to ask for the trusteeship under the United States. It is too heavy burden for Taiwan to support the national government's war coffers, and in fact we have no interest and loyalty to China. After the February 28 incident all of the Formosans excepting some puppet have thought the trusteeship is the only way to rescue Taiwan from the "Hell."

We believe we shall be able to carry out the democracy by ourselves under the aid of the United States, and of course we can do our best to cooperate with the U.S. in every way to defend against your enemy in the future . . . [9]

General Wedemeyer's Visit

General George C. Marshall had returned to the United States from his China Mission in January, 1947, convinced that there was no possibility of bringing the Communists and Nationalists together. The question "What to do about China?" was becoming the most important issue in America's domestic politics and foreign affairs. Marshall believed that the United States must reduce its commitments to the disintegrating Nationalist Government and so cut its losses in China's civil war. President Truman, on the other hand, was being harassed by savage charges that he was withholding military aid and thereby deliberately favoring the Communists. Before making final decisions, the President sent Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer to China once more to assess the military situation, the chances of Chiang's survival, and the practicality of further massive aid for the Nationalist regime.

It was a fact-finding mission. Before leaving China Wedemeyer flew to Formosa, so recently relieved of Chen Yi. Governor Wei sensed the General's lack of enthusiasm but did his best to convince him that Formosa was indeed a bastion of democracy. As usual the perennial "sample native," Huang Chao-chin, was brought forward for a private interview as "spokesman for the Formosan people." Noting the "intervention" agitation, Wedemeyer assured Huang that the United States had no territorial ambitions in Formosa. Huang bowed himself out and promptly told the waiting press that the General had declared, "The United States has no interest in Formosa," thereby chilling the hearts of Formosan leaders who had hoped Wedemeyer would recommend an investigation of the situation on the island.

General Wedemeyer reported to the President that the Chnese were not using efficiently the aid we had given them, and while asking for enormous American dollar grants-in-aid had not drawn on their own resources. "Privately-held foreign exchange assets [of the Chinese] are at least $600 million, and may total $1500 million, but no serious attempt has been made to mobilize these private resources for rehabilitation purposes" [10] Wedemeyer detailed Chiang's incapacitities as a military leader, the gross incompetence of his generals, and the corruption of the Nationalist Party and Government. He recommended complete American withdrawal from the Chinese Theatre and the formation of a five-nation "guardianship" for Manchuria, with Russian participation. But in strange contradiction, in the same document, he urged increased military and economic aid for Chiang on a massive scale, and the placement of American "advisors" at every level of the Nationalist administration. He would in effect transform Chiang into a "front man" or puppet.

For obvious reasons the Department of State could not release the Wedemeyer Report at that time. Every semblance of Nationalist administration in South China would have vanished overnight. The Department would not recommend placing part of China (Manchuria) under an international trust administration. The Report was shelved and kept secret.

Soon thereafter it was announced that the United States would help the Nationalists develop a military training program on the island.

This was a turning point, a recognition that Formosa, at least, could not and would not be written off if the Pentagon could prevent it. Five years had elapsed since a first Memorandum on the subject had been prepared in the Pentagon suggesting development of a postwar policing base in southern Formosa. Now it was about to be realized.

Formosan leaders heard the news with some bitterness; they had hoped for a direct American or United Nations intervention to cut them off from the civil war in China. As one wrote to me " ... a reenforcement of the present Chinese troops garrisoning the island will be resented and open to misinterpretation."

The announcement loosed a spate of rumors that General Wedemeyer had also recommended increased economic aid and the construction of huge military and naval bases. The whole program, it was said, would be related to a general reconstruction program for South China, where T. V. Soong had become Governor of Kwangtung Province.

On October 3, at Hong Kong, the newspaper Hua Shang Pao carried banner headlines which read:





According to the text, a Major in the United States Air Force had assured a prominent Formosan that the Nationalist Government would soon collapse, and that Formosans should prepare for the aftermath. The Communists would probably take over the mainland (the American had said), but Communism would not be good for the island. If Formosans wished to improve conditions within Formosa and required American aid, they should consult with the Director of the United States Information Service at Taipei.

Then - according to the Hong Kong story - the Formosan leader had a two-hour conversation at the American Consulate. The USIS Director noted Formosa's unsettled legal status, saying that it was still technically under General MacArthur, and that he would receive Formosan petitions for help. The United States expected to apply the terms of the Atlantic Charter here, giving Formosans an opportunity to determine of their free will "to which nation they will belong."

Continuing, the article alleged that the USIS Director pledged American help if the Formosans asked for it and were willing to free themselves from the Chinese government. Under an American Trust administration they would be permitted to determine the length of the Trust period. Meanwhile the United States would do all that it could to rehabilitate the island economy. Lastly (it was alleged) after the fall of the Nanking Government the United States would at once undertake to release all the so-called political criminals and those involved in the February Incident and its aftermath. Conscription would be abolished.

To this point the story rather clearly outlined the position and hopes of the leaders who wished to get rid of the Nationalists, but the story had been prepared by exiles who were now swinging, over to the Communists, taking the view that anything would be better than the Nationalists, and that the revival of foreign concessions must not take place. In their view the proposed Sino-American training program was merely resurgence of old-style military imperialism. We can see that the United States is now trying her best to collaborate with the local gentry, and has started the trusteeship movement so asto prepare favorable conditions for her invasion of Taiwan." [11]

Soon after this the UNRRA group left Formosa. On the 15th of December Allen Shackleton (the Industrial Rehabilitation Officer) made a shortwave broadcast from Sydney, Australia, in which he gave an account of conditions on Formosa under Wei Tao-ming,'s "reform government." It was a strong indictment and was heard on Formosa where it provoked a furious reaction. Stanway Cheng's propagandists took the line that the British and American imperialists had the same ambitions which had fired the Nazis and the Japanese, but were more clever about it; America and Britain brought UNRRA supplies as deceptive gifts and offered "aid to China" as a decoy while plotting to annex, exploit and "enslave" Formosa.

On December 20 Governor Wei visited Nanking, was briefed, and came forth with the statement that all outside criticism of the policies and conduct of the Nationalists on Formosa was promoted by the intrigues of communists and "ambitious elements of a certain nation" who wanted to sever Formosa from China. He warned that the rumors of Formosan discontent would continue to spread until the Peace Treaty could be signed, but that China's claims to Formosa were unchallengeable. [12]

As 1947 drew to a close the United States found itself in a most awkward position of its own making. Our Information Service continued to pour propaganda into Formosa which pictured the United States as the world's foremost champion of liberty and of minority rights, but at the same time we were enlarging our commitment to support Chiang's disorderly Army. The Nationalists, on the other hand, were energetically seeking to destroy Formosan confidence in the United States.

Eight Catholic priests (who were not Americans) spent the long New Year holiday in villages far from Taipei, but they carried with them an American film series made available by the Consulate. They showed the films seven times and each showing drew large crowds. Of their experience the Fathers wrote:

The mayor of ___ made a speech asking the people to be thankful to the Americans who, through me, gave them this golden opportunity of seeing such wonderful things and which never before had they seen, all the people applauded fervently.

Some people complain the talking of the films, which is Mandarin, and they would rather prefer the English talking. Anywhere the Formosan people is very enthusiastic about anything coming from the U.S., and not only that but also some people many times ask me when will the U.S.A. take control of this Island. They say that [they] hope the day of being free of the "Pigs" (as they call them) of the Mainland . . . Many people want to learn English . . . [13]

The anniversary of the Incident approached; Governor Wei prepared for trouble. Arrests and search on a large scale began again about February 20; a new Gendarme Force was established to strengthen the Governor's hand, and the island was held under close restriction at the ports. The day came and passed in an islandwide atmosphere of great tension but with no major incident. Formosans in surprising number were moved to write to foreign friends on that grim anniversary. Said one to me, "I have tried many times to write . . . but each time there has been something which prevented me from doing so - we are not enjoying the 'Freedom from Fear' here, you know." Said another:

One year has passed since those dark terrified days we had to have, and now still we are always in some worry, uneasy feeling what may be done [to] us by the capricious present leading power in China ...

At the first anniversary day those from the mainland were threatened by the rumour that some of the islanders would break up and do the same thing as last year. On the other hand the islanders held the idea that they are standing at the very end of a cliff, and might be thrown into the deep valley by the present forces in this island, [who throw] over them the name "Communists." Like this the public in the island are divided into two parties and watching each other . . .

But when [I realize] that one year has passed and still no definite moving outside to bring this island out to the center of the world for discussion, I would feel something down-hearted . . . And although there is no apparent [change in Formosa's international position] the unwillingness of converting themselves into the way of those from the mainland is still growing in the mind of the Formosan people . . .

There may be some underground movements in the island. But they are not in good organization or in good connections with each other . . .

In any way, the islanders are not blessed by the god of freedom, I guess ... [14]

The writer then elaborates arguments for intervention which he hears discussed among his friends and questions Formosa's future relations with Japan. They fear that a prolonged civil war in China will reduce Formosa to absolute poverty and a state of administrative chaos. Will Japan then arrange to return, or will the United States establish a trust administration?

The mainland Chinese at Taipei were well aware of these sentiments and arguments. The circumstances brought into the open the basic Chinese contempt and dislike of all non-Chinese people. Here in Formosa it was galling to see the "inferior" island people so eager to invoke barbarian intervention. Worst of all, it was so apparent that the Nationalist regime, in order to survive, was indeed becoming entirely dependent upon American military and economic grants-in-aid. These deep-seated resentments sometimes welled to the surface.**

October's Hong Kong story telling of Formosan interest in a trust status for the island, under American administration, had alarmed Nanking and Taipei, for it was too close to the truth.

Sun Fo: "Communist Agents in the American Consulate?"

A strong counterattack was required. To please Americans Governor Wei had decorated the facade of his "reform government" with many details, among them a Formosan chapter of Rotary International. Properly managed it could be used to disseminate suitable propaganda through worldwide distribtition of club publications. One of the first "plants" was an address by Dr. Sun Fo, at that time President of the Legislative Yuan or "Premier," and son of the "National Father." This was a heavy gun, but heavy guns were needed.

Sun flew in from Shanghai, rose before the Rotary Club, and began his remarks by denouncing inaccurate reporting of conditions within Formosa by foreign newsmen who raised the question of Formosa's future status. Social Conditions on the island (said Dr. Sun) were "most peaceful and orderly" and Dr. Wei's administration represented a very stable government and economy if compared with certain other regions in the world. At least 90 per cent of Formosa's population is of Chinese descent, be observed, and the similarity of cultural traditions shows how close Formosa is to China despite the Japanese half century. "I deeply believe," he said, "that Taiwan will always be one of the provinces of China." As for conditions within Formosa, he assured Rotarians around the world that "all technical personnel in Taiwan have done their best in the last two years. All local industries are on their way to recovery."

Dr. Sun then expressed his belief that a mere one hundred million dollars from the United States of America would bring everything in Formosa to peak production.

With this he flew back to Shanghai.

Having been well briefed at Taipei, on March 1 he called a press conference. Again he led off by severely criticizing foreign correspondents for "inaccurate reporting." They had failed to interview responsible members of Government on Formosa and "leaders in various circles," said he. The persistent stories that Formosa wished to be separated from the fatherland were false; the newsmen "were fooled by people engaged in disseminating communist propaganda." Furthermore:

The fact has been disclosed in the United States that the person engaged in this is an officer in the Press Office of the American Consulate in Taiwan. He misinterpreted the facts by taking advantage that these American reporters do not understand the local language.

Some people infected by propaganda said that all the people sent by the Chinese Government to Taiwan either to take over the posts left by the Japanese or to work in Taiwan are incompetent and they have made a mess of the good foundation for reconstruction left by the Japanese. This is contrary to what I have seen in middle and southern Taiwan.

We should also query our friendly nation [i.e. the U.S.A.] which should allow such a person [the USIS officer] undermining the U.S.-China friendship to remain in its government until the present moment . . . As to the Chinese working in the USIS as interpreters, translators and guides, it is hoped they will be investigated, impeached, and denounced by society. [16]

The American Embassy at Nanking and the Consulate at Taipei promptly protested, and as promptly everyone on Formosa from Governor Wei to the lowliest clerk in his Information Office denied advance knowledge of Sun Fo's text. The China News Service was obliged to send out a "correction" with orders that the story be deleted from the news-record files, but the damage was done.

The USIS Officer was the last American official left in Formosa who had actually witnessed the bloody March affair and was therefore "dangerous." He was on the eve of departure for a new post, so that Sun Fo's blast could be interpreted as a "success". But beyond this it was evident that Chiang's agents and friends on both sides of the Pacific had determined the basic line of propaganda which they have followed since that day: any critic of Chiang or of his Army, Party and Government is, ipso facto, a Communist, a fellow traveler, or a dupe of the Communists; anyone who suggests intervention on Formosa is open to grave suspicion.

As for the Consulate itself, it was a foregone conclusion that the Consular officers could never again expect interpreters, translators and guides to speak frankly on the subject of Formosan relations with the mainland Chinese.

American Bases for Formosa?

The creation of a Sino-American Military Training Program at Pingtung in southern Formosa marked a turning point in American relations with the island.

General Sun Li-jen inaugurated the program on February 19, 1948. His camps were orderly, his men disciplined, and no rumors accused him of graft and corruption. The Formosans soon saw that they had a military officer of new quality among them. American correspondents hurried over to have a look; Henry Lieberman wrote "The Training Group [camp] which is a going concern, is a much more orderly place than the new bases established here by the Chinese Air Force and Navy." Christopher Rand predicted that there would soon be an all-out Sino-American occupation of Formosa in order to hold it secure as a link in the Japan-Okinawa-Philippines chain.

But Sun's appointment had a certain ambiguity about it. He was then Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Armies, and was without question the Chinese officer held in highest esteem by American officers who had worked with him in the China-Burma-India Theatre during World War II and later.***

As commander of the "New First Army" he had distinguished himself in the northeast; although Manchuria was lost, his personal reputation was high. Officers who served with him were said to make a special effort to stay in his commands, and when he was named to the Formosan operation, it was said that one hundred officers immediately crossed over to join him there and that three hundred waited impatiently in Shanghai for a summons to his staff.

None of this sat well with the Generalissimo whose capacity for vindictive jealousy is well known. He would brook no potential rivals in Party, Army, or Governrnent. It was rumored that by sending General Sun off to distant Formosa - to a training camp ill-supplied with arms - he thought to diminish the possibility that this popular general could bring an army into the field on behalf of the anti-Communist "Third Force" of which there was much talk. It is more probable, however, that the Americans arranging for this joint enterprise simply insisted upon the assignment of the man who could do the job to best advantage.

The possible isolation of Formosa became a topic of wide speculation. A leading Shanghai editor sought comment on a number of key problems, including Formosan dissatisfaction under Nationalist Party rule. The fourth question read "If the northern and southern harbors in Taiwan should become free harbors, how will the United States, China and Taiwan itself be affected?"

The so-called C-C Clique (a powerful faction headed by Chen Li-fu) began to build up public belief that a massive new American aid-to-China program was assured, but that it was not on a grand enough scale. The C-C newspaper Shun Pao protested that any aid given to Formosa should be a separate and additional item in the American budget for overall aid to China. It also discovered that China needed a powerful Navy.

Here was something new, for the world had not heard of a Chinese Navy since the old Empress Dowager long ago used the Government's naval appropriations to build a marble boat in her Peking Palace garden.

Now it was suddenly realized that Formosa is an island, and that it might be good to have a Navy, and this in turn would require a large organization to handle the huge sums which quite naturally would be forthcoming from the United States. "What is of special interest to us," said the Shun Pao, "is that the United States is going to help us carry out fully our plan of building a naval base in Taiwan." [17]

Chen Li-fu was quick to scent rewarding possibilities; using attendance at a Moral Re-Armament Conference as an ostensible excuse, Chen flew on to Washington and New York, where be was received cordially by Congressmen, military, men, and MRA enthusiasts.

But he found that the bloom had passed from the great Sino-American romance. On his return to China in September he complained that "Years of Communist propaganda in the United States have changed the American view of China. Traditional sympathy has become general disappointment."

We expressed our national disappointment in this instance by transferring to China a total of 131 naval vessels, valued at $141,315,000, under terms of Public Law 512 (79th Congress), approved on July 16, 1948. Chiang's naval bases on Formosa began to take on life.

Among Formosans the initial bitterness evoked by the new "Aid-to-Chiang" program gave way to resignation. A foreign doctor noted that "the people welcome the U. S. Army, still very small, here, in the belief that their presence lays some restraint on the Nationalist troops."

Were the Americans coming into Formosa to protect the rights and interests of the Formosan people, or were they coming in to confirm Chiang Kai-shek's hold upon them?

next chapter
contents of Formosa Betrayed

* This was the first Mme. Wei (1894-1959), who preferred to be known as Cheng Yu-hsiu, Tcheng Soume, or Soumay Tcheng.
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** This was a matter of face on a national scale, of wounded cultural pride tormented for 150 years by condescending foreign patronage which demanded that "backward" China exchange its traditional religious, social and political ideas for a mode of life and standards of value approved by the West. The subject cannot be explored here, but I believe the accumulated resentment-- a century old--may lie near the heart of Peking's savage rejection of the West, her inhuman treatment of missionaries as symbols of the Western patronage, and the bitter detemination to "destroy the United States."
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*** General Sun held a Purdue University engineering degree ('23), and had graduated from General Marshall's old school, the Virginia Military Institute ('27). He had served with General Joseph Stilwell, with great distinction.
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1. Letter from N. P. Koh (CNRRA) to E. E. Paine (UNRRA) dated July 20, 1948.

2. letter from N. P. Koh (CNRRA) to E. E. Paine (UNRRA) dated June 15, 1948.

3. Letter to Dr. Ira D. Hirschy (Chief Medical Officer,, UNRRA) dated Taipei, April 14, 1947.

4. Letter to Edward E. Paine (UNRRA Reports Officer) dated Taipei, May 4, 1947.

5. Letter from Hans Johansen (UNRRA-Norway) to E. E. Paine, dated Taipei, April 17, 1947.

6. Letter to Kerr from Taipei, dated June 16, 1947

7. Hsin Sheng Pao (Taipei), May 1, 1947

8. Dr. Ira D. Hirschy quoting Dr. Pierre Sylvain (UNRRA-Haiti) in letter to E. E. Paine (UNRRA-USA), dated at Shanghai, June 27, 1947.

9. Letter to Kerr from Taipei, dated September 6, 1947

10. [U. S. State Dept.] United States Relations With China, "Report to President Truman by Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer, U. S. Army," September 19, 1()47- Part 11, "China-economic," P. 770.

11. Hua Shang Pao (Hong Kong), October 3, 1947.

12. Chuan Min Jih Pao (Taipei), December 20, '()48.

13. Letter from a Catholic priest on Formosa to an American friend, dated January 17, 1948.

14. Letter to Kerr, dated March 2, 1948, at Taipei.

15. Chung Hua Jih Pao (Taipei), February 27, 1948.

16. Central News Agency release (Shanghai), March 2, 1948; and Hsin Sheng Pao (Taipei), same date.

17. Shun Pao (Shanghai), February 1.4, 1948.